Just hours before Keith Alexander, the NSA director general, was due to give a keynote presentation at Black Hat 2013 in Las Vegas today, more revelations about the NSA’s spying hit the headlines.
Details of the organisation’s XKeyscore programme, leaked by whistleblower Eric Snowden, were published in the Guardian newspaper this morning.
XKeyscore covers browsing history, emails, social media activity and is accessible to NSA analysts with little or no prior authorisation.
It enables the analysts to trawl through a database "containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals", according the newspaper’s report. The leaked documents stated that the NSA believes XKeyscore is its "widest-reaching" Internet intelligence system.
The analysts can then combine XKeyscore with data from other NSA systems to obtain real-time interception of targets’ Internet activity.
The Gurdian report added: "XKeyscore provides the technological capability, if not the legal authority, to target even US persons for extensive electronic surveillance without a warrant."
You have to wonder what the next revelation will be and how much worse can it possibly get. The American government has really been caught with its pants down. It’s no wonder it’s so desperate to get its hands on Snowden and shut him up. Just look at fellow whistleblower Bradley Manning, the US soldier who handed thousands of classified government files to WikiLeaks. For his efforts in exposing the US Government, he’s been found guilty of espionage and more than a dozen other charges and faces being thrown in jail for 126 years – even though this week he was acquitted of aiding al-Qa’ida (the most serious charge he faced).
It will be interesting to see exactly how that trial pans out, and I await further leaks with bated breath. In the meantime, I’m trying to find out if Keith Alexander did give that presentation and, if so, how it went down with the audience.